Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome to My World: The City of Senovese

Welcome, Good Persons, welcome.  Ah, ah...  Watch your step, now!  The quay is wet and crowded.  You may slip or get jostled and pushed into the water.  This way, this way...  Yes, yes.  After your long journey on such a fine sailing ship, it would be sad to drown just when you reached shore, eh?  In Perfect Truth, it would.  
If I may be so bold, I am called Draco.  And you look like people on important business.  I can assist you, I can, in finding...
Eh?  Say again?  Where are you?  Oh, my!  You're in Senovese!  Both the city AND the republic.  You have been at sea far too long to ask such a question.  
Here, here, look at my hand.  Say it were the Nao Peninsula.  Right here, where it plunges like a dagger into the back of the Middle Ocean, right where the blood would trickle across the width of the blade protruding from the victim's back, that would be the Andamaria river.  And here, on the blade's edge, would be the Republic of Senovese, and the city that gives our realm her name.  
Small?  Small you say?  How can you...?  Oh, oh, oh...  No, no, no, My Lady.  THIS is not Senovese.  This walled fishing village is the Port D'Ocle.  It is the mouth of the city, if you will.  It is where Senovese speaks of fine wine and dyed fabric to the world and were we breathe in the silk and cotton and wool that we turn into clothing to cover the nakedness shaped by the Demi Urge.  
If you look that way, follow the line of the walled causeway, and you can see it sitting on the flanks of Mount Sisesstrus.  The New Wall marks its outer edge.  THAT is the city of Senovese.  Allow me to show you, gentle souls.  You obviously need someone like me.  I, Draco, know all there is to know about the city.  Come, come...  This way.  
The causeway, you can see, is a busy place.  It is like a long, narrow city, almost.  One the width of a well travelled road.  There are many warehouses here, filled with the goods Senovese gives to the world, and those that she takes in.  In between there are shops and businesses that cater to sailors and ship masters that bring their vessels into ports.  Ale houses, and inns.  Money lenders and shipping cartels.  Places to stay the night, either alone or with some purchased company, where the floor doesn't sway and fall along with the tide.  If you're a Dolphin, many of the shops here will give you a discount...
No, Good Sir, Kind Lady.  I meant not that you were an animal, I...  Oh.  You must be a strange to Nao itself.  A "Dolphin," gentle soul, are one of the factions.  Twelve in all.  The same number as the Realms.  They vie with each other for power in the counsel chambers and assemblies in each of the Realms.  More so here in the Republic of Senovese were the prince is chosen by Selection...
You look confused.  It is all very convoluted.  Here, this way.  I know a cartsman we can pay to drive us into the city.  If you would but give me some coins, a silver merchant at the most, I will make the arrangements. Two merchants might be better, just in case...
We've arrived.  This is the Porta Verde, the main gate in the New Wall.  Here the walls of the causeway open up to entangle, like a pair of noodles, with the road that runs north into the farmlands of Senovese and south toward the vineyards and cattle pastures, and the Principality of Naoli beyond.  It is also here that the causeway road turns into the Via Verde.  
You are gawking, My Lord.  The New Wall IS impressive.  Built by startled victors when the Mad King, Duilio Boravella, was cast out.  Built to keep out his powerful nephew, Duke Otto "The Great" Boravella of Media.  And it has worked, too.  Thus far.  Thus far.
Come, come.  There is more inside to see.  Through the gate way we go.
THIS is Via Verde.  This is a city built on commerce and it flows along the Via Verde the way blood flows through your veins.  Look about you.  See you any tenements or hovels?  No.  You see shops and store fronts.  You see businesses of all kinds.  A dizzying array.  So many you may have a hard time finding what you want.  Just tell Draco what you want and I will take you to where you can find it.  
This place, where the Via Verde opens up to our right?  It is the Palazzo.  If the Via Verde is the main artery of the city, then the Palazzo is its heart.  But up ahead we go.  Forward, forward.  We will return to the Palazzo.  No matter which way you go in Senovese, you end up in the Palazzo.  
Just past the Palazzo, we come to the Falcon's Nest.  It is Senovese's banking district.  See...  That is a bank.  That is a chapter house for a merchant cartel.  That is a building that sells assurances...  Assurances?  Forgive Draco's ignorance, but it is a new type of business.  But I know many of the ship masters and traders go in there before they send their vessels and good across the ocean.  Maybe they are some sort of fortune teller, or sorcerers that cast spells of protection.  Draco doesn't know.  But I can go in and ask for you.  I may need a coin or three to grease the palm of them that guard the door...
The name?  Ah, yes!  Of course, it is the Factions again.  The rich and powerful men that own these business are all members of the Falcon Faction.  It is said that trying to find a poor Falcon is like trying to find a flying pig.  Look at the buildings!  Don't they look like a row of wealthy merchants, standing shoulder to shoulder, their windows staring down at us like disapproving eyes?  Let us move on, gentle souls.  Hurry on, now.  
Beyond the Falcon's Nest we find an intersection called the Three-Fingered hand.  
This way heading left, it is the Via Fontebranda.  It leads through to the Porta Fontebranda, the city's north gate.  No, no, no...  Kind people, please, come back, come back...  The Fontebranda is far too rough a place for such good people as yourself.  Rough entertainments can be found there.  Bear pits, whorehouses, theaters and the like.  The orphans' hospital is in the Fontebranda, too.  Strange, that.  Or maybe not so strange, when you think of the number of orphans that are created in the Fontebranda each night.  
Head true on the Via Verde and you reach the Citadel.  It was the old keep of the Mad King, but now is where the Assembly meets to pass our laws.  It is also where you can find the Prado, the great green park that gives the Via Verde its name.  It used to be where the Mad King's soldiers trained.  The Senovese Guard can still be found there.  And close by the Citadel is Manor Boravella, the home of the Boravella family in Senovese.  
Yes, we still have Boravella.  A section of the family returned and gave up their nobility to become one of the "Distinguished Families" of Senovese.  No nobles in Senovese, no.  Their manor is the only one in the Citadel area.  It used to be connected to the Citadel itself, but that causeway was broken up.  They are close together, though, the Citadel and the Boravella manor.  Like two old conspirators leaning their heads together to whisper, they look.  
On the right hand we have the fairer way.  The Via Terzo.  This way we shall go...
See, gentle persons?  Like we're in the countryside, no?  This is the Terzo Cittá.  It is here that the Distinguished Families that replaced our nobles make their homes.  The street becomes more like a gravel covered road, see?  And their manor houses look like tiny villages, separated one from the other like tree covered alleys.  If you look ahead, you can see them climbing higher and higher up the side of old Mount Sisesstrus, which huffs and puffs from his crown as if annoyed by their proud weight on his back.  If you have the means, and the power, to make your home in the Terzo Cittá, then you will live well.  But you had better belong here if you come, especially at night.  They say that the powerful make their own laws, if you take my meaning.  
Let's hurry on then.  This way, good people, this way...
And here we are, back at the Palazzo.  Didn't I tell you all the streets of Senovese lead here?  You can mark it too, from wherever you are in the city.  Just look for the spires of the Cathedral, rising high above all the other buildings.  Like fingers of stone, reaching to the sky to peal back the Veil, and reach beyond the encircling darkness created by the Demi Urge to imprison us, to grasp the hem of the True God's garment of Pure Light.     
Head down that way, the Via Peruzzi, into the southern half of the city, you will find the muscle and sinew of Senovese.  It is there you'll find factories that turn wool into cloth and silk into robes for Distinguished Dons and Sons.  You'll find the thread-makers that bind these cloths together, and the carpenters that build the boxes they are shipped in all across the world. 
Close at hand, though, along the south side of the Palazzo, are the Charter Houses of the factions.  See?  Those buildings draped with colorful banners?  The gray and white of the steady, plodding Ox faction.  The burning red and gold of the proud Lions.  The blue and silver of the Dolphins.  The purple and red of the scheming Wyverns.  Eleven of the twelve can be found there.  The Falcons have their Charter House in the Falcon's nest.  The building we passed with the red and green banners in front, remember it?  
Hmm...  Why is the Palazzo so crowded?  In Perfect Truth, Gentle Person, it is not that crowded.  Senovese is a busy place.  Though tonight...  Ah, then you will see it pressed to the edges with people.  Tonight is Selection Night, you see.  When a new Prince in Senovese will be chosen.
Look there!  On the steps of the Cathedral, see?  Follow my arm past the fountain...  To the right of the fountain, the cauldron there...  Yes.  There.  At noon that cauldron will be filled with oil and wine and the lots collected by the factions from their supporters and set to boiling.  Thirteen hours later, at an hour past midnight, the sorcerer charged to oversee the process will reach into that boiling, burning cauldron and pluck forth one lot.  On its surface will be embossed the sigil of one of the factions.  And its candidate will become our next prince.  
An exciting time?  Yes, yes, it is, it is...  Normally.  Hmm.  Oh, nothing, nothing.  It's just, these days...   Things are...  Different.  
Forgive me, Good Persons, forgive my foolishness.  But you must be tired from your sojourn today.  And hungry, too.  
There.  On the south side of the Palazzo.  The building that resembles the old town house it used to be.  It is the Two Doves inn.  Famous for its fine wine, delicious food and good cheer.  Let us stop there for a time, yes?  I can tell you more about the city as you break your fast.  Maybe even we can wait for the Selection there.  
Don't worry about old Draco, Kind Ones.  I will be fine.  Whatever you feel Draco is worth for his service to you today, will be more than enough for me.  


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